Friday, 18 April 2014

Your website was born at the time of the Big Bang

For a few million years it was not visited. Darn.

The first humans didn't visit it either. Throughout 200.000 years though, they developed a very strong sense of and talent for visuals.

Their survival depended on it. On the accuracy and especially quickness by which they could read facial expressions, patterns in nature or skies, and the atmosphere around the cave. 

So this human race became, per definition, top professionals in design criticism. At least of that very first and most important moment: when your website opens and instinct kicks in.

They can instantly spot whether they are dealing with a lion or a hyena. The real lion or a copycat. A first class sabre-tooth tiger or a has-been. A human or a scarecrow. A good and useful stone or a clumsy one. 

If they happened to bump into another creature, they had to make a split second decision. Fight or flight? Was this other person a danger, a competitor, a thief, an asset, a liability - and to what extent?

Hence the 'Manhattan once-over'. The reason why we judge a person in a matter of seconds. Based on a glance which covers face, clothing, car, speech and setting. 

Hence why we instantly spot stock photos, images nicked from the Internet, template websites or contradictory elements. 

It's not because we have an iPhone that we suddenly forget a 200.000 year training in survival techniques. 

From the moment a website opens we know whether or not we will invest trust in it. You can clearly see that in your Analytics. Do your online visitors stay - or flee? Do they get into contact - or not? Are these the right clients - or not? 

If the answer is more negative than positive - your website might be a bump in nature. Amongst the millions of patterns and triggers around us, not the one we cavemen care about.

Also the Neanderthal would have flocked to Mona Lisa. For she can't be read. Fight or flight? We just don't know. It's intriguing.

He would also have felt peace with Vermeer. 

Your web pages might not actually have been created 200.000 years ago - but its visitors were.



Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Zig-Zag Theory of marketing

"Good Lord, Ben, smoking? In your website and on Facebook? In 2014"??

No cigarettes were harmed during the making of these photos.
"Aren't you losing customers over that"? 

If anything, I noticed a spike in requests in the weeks after I posted these photos. Right because it's so much Not Done in 2014, and thus a rare sight, that my website became memorable. 

This is called 'the Zig-Zag theory' of marketing: if the whole world goes to the left, you go to the right. 

You have experienced it yourself: you search for a hotel somewhere, visit 22 hotel websites (which is the average before making a  hotel reservation), and they are just all the same. One click after the other, it's the same. 

In Fiji: 'Come as guest, and leave as a friend" (I found this 25 times)
In Morocco: 'True authenticity. Experience the real Morocco' (I found this 32 times).

It is remarkable how such hotels also more or less copy the style of the websites of competitors. 

Who can be a contender in that quick series of 22-hotels-in-22-seconds? The hotel website that stands out.

"Everybody uses flash in their website - we need to have that too".
"Our competitors use music - shall we have that too"?
"They are all on YouTube - we must have a video too".

I know it's very tempting. I know that repeat influences can be strong. Yet, in the end, those who give in to such perceived social pressure, are merely 'tagging along' with fashion. They will be, once again, just one in a dozen. 

And the only one who profits is the business that was among the first to use it. For they had an advantage or temporary spike in the conquest of the market share.

There are over a trillion web pages online. 
One single thing no online visitor is searching for, is the possibility to be bored.